Some Lessons are Hard to Learn (and Teach)

In some ways, I am lucky that my brother and sister are a bit older and they can do a lot of stuff for themselves. They also know right from wrong (whether they do the right thing or not a whole other thing). Unfortunately, some of their problems are bigger as well. And I…well, sometimes I just don’t know how to handle things. Other times, it isn’t that I don’t know how to handle them, it’s that I wish I didn’t have to. It’s a lousy feeling.

For example, my little sister plays these stupid internet games. I don’t like them but just about everybody at school plays them and she already sticks out at school. So against my better judgment, I let her get an account. She can’t be friends with anybody she doesn’t know personally and she knows that I check her account to read her messages and check her friends list (I made the password).

So far, she’s gone along with every single rule I have put in place with the game – time limits, homework requirements, she can only play in the same room I’m in, all that stuff. There’s one thing we disagree on, and that is the chat feature. I don’t want it on. Ever. She can message her friends but complains that she can’t talk to them in-game.

One day I finally gave in and turned the chat on. Within about ten minutes, she started crying uncontrollably. Someone – not a friend – had stolen an item from her that she had played for weeks to save up enough points to buy. They had asked her to borrow it and promised they would return it, and then of course they logged off immediately once they had the item. My sister was devastated. Now, I’ve been telling her over and over that people in the games aren’t always nice and they might pretend to be something they aren’t, but she always sees the best in people. It probably didn’t occur to her that this person would steal her item after they specifically said that they would not.

Now, on the one hand, I am glad that my sister is so optimistic about people but it concerns me at the same time. How do I explain to her that people are often mean jerks who will lie and take stuff from you? That’s a difficult lesson to teach somebody who just doesn’t see the bad in people, and it is a hard lesson to learn. Because once you know there are bad people out there, you can’t go back to thinking the way you used to. In a way, I wish she never had to learn this stuff.

Rather than point out that this was exactly what I’d been talking about, I gave her a hug. Then we very calmly reported the person to the game’s moderators, and await a response. I also turned her chat back off so that she can’t be taken advantage of again. It just sucks, you know? On the one hand, I hope the moderators give her the item back, but on the other hand, I almost wish they wouldn’t – I really hope she learns a lesson from this so there was at least a point to going through this.